Fill in the blank: Love is ______. Did the word “blind” come to mind? What about “patient?” Or “war?” For recent UTC graduate Taylor Kinser, love is glitter. And marshmallows. With a little pink paint, sequins, and soap suds too. Kinser’s conceptual art project, “Bottled Emotions,” explores the idea of creating and packaging an intangible product—our emotions.
Ms. Kinser explores the concept of what is means to be “emotionally available” in modern society.
“Emotions seem so readily available. They never run out. But then I thought about how people are always so emotionally drained. We deal with so many emotions everyday and it’s amplified when big events happen—deaths, weddings, break-ups, births, holidays, injuries, etc. What does it even mean to be emotionally available anymore?” she said.
Ms. Kinser’s project also critiques our modern consumer culture.
“While there would certainly be no need to purchase emotions—they’re a natural act of being human—our consumer culture tells that buying something will help us work through an emotional time in our lives. This project is related to the idea of ‘drinking your way through’ a situation. It’s an observation on the consumption of emotional availability,” she said.
In addition to love, Ms. Kinser crafted concoctions for several other common emotions, including fear, anger, confusion, and excitement. She used a variety of unique ingredients to get the color for each emotion.
“Most of the ingredients were chosen by color. Fear, for instance, in my mind was black. I used India ink and shards of stained glass to evoke the sense of fear. Excitement was blue detergent, pink paint, and liquid from a glow stick. Anger has a thick oozing red paint that lingers like anger would,” she said.
In addition to creating the liquid concoction for each emotion, Ms. Kinser designed the packaging—plastic bottles with both a classic and modern look.
“The bottles themselves were intended to have an old apothecary look with a modern twist. I researched alcohol branding as well as medicinal branding for the look and feel of the bottles. I used vinyl for the typography and wanted to keep them very simple. It was more about the contents in the bottles than the packaging,” she said.
Ms. Kinser also created an accompanying tonic guide, called “Victory’s Tonic Guide,” a play on the idea of “small victories” and coping with emotions.
“The tonic guide continued the conceptual work by giving recipes of how much of each emotion you need to have to get through big events. The guide meant to be both comical and serious since no one can put a quantity on how much of one emotion a person will need to get through something. I chose to focus on events surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, since those seem to be the happiest and most stressful times of the year,” she said.
So, what emotions make up “Black Friday”—the busiest shopping day of the holiday season? Excitement, envy, curiosity, and fear. Eating grandma’s fruitcake has a simpler recipe—fear and curiosity.
Ms. Kinser, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in May 2014, credits her professors and fellow students in her senior studio design course for helping her perfect the project.
“I definitely received several critiques from both my peers and my teacher, Aggie Toppins. As a class, they helped me dive into a deeper meaning with the project. Critiques are a huge part of the curriculum in the art department. One of the most valued skills that we learn in all disciplines, from painting to photography, is how to think critically and conceptually. I have learned why this is so important as a designer. It’s not enough to be good at using the tools needed to create a design. It is so valuable to be able to think critically and abstractedly in order to solve a problem and create good designs,” she said.
Aggie Toppins, UTC assistant professor of Graphic Design, calls Ms. Kinser a hard-working student who displayed an enthusiasm for design.
“Taylor’s project is interesting because the bottles themselves are fun to view and interact with, but there is also a conceptual richness behind the work,” Toppins said. “‘Bottled Emotions’ uses the space of commercial packaging to comment on the need for emotional availability in a world dominated by consumer desire. At the same time, the bottles seduce you to pick them up and handle them. I’ve heard people say, ‘I want those.’ To that end, Taylor created something which uses desire to critique desire. It’s very clever.”